Reason Three: Piazza Life

Piazza in Sicily

Piazza in Sicily

Each time I visit a new town in Italy, I make my first stop in the main piazza, to get a feel for the place. Every village, town and city has at least one main piazza and many minor ones. The main piazza is the heart and soul of a town. It’s where the people gather to talk, discuss politics, celebrate the feast days and holidays or just sit and enjoy some moments of far niente—doing nothing.

Dining al fresco in Cremona

Dining al fresco in Cremona

This is also where you’ll find the main church, il Duomo and possibly the mayor’s offices in a beautiful historical building. Every piazza has a few coffee bars and restaurants that put their tables outside when the weather permits. Those tables will be filled with lively families if it’s sunny on a Sunday afternoon.

On different days of the week, various piazzas will host the open markets where vendors are selling everything from clothes and furniture to fruits, vegetable and cheeses. Throughout the year, the main piazza is the place to find live music, car shows or the finish line for a bicycle or foot race.

Feast of St. Joseph in Sicily

Feast of St. Joseph in Sicily

In the large cities like Rome and Florence, the famous piazzas are impressive with their fabulous fountains by Bernini or amazing sculpture by Michelangelo (copies, actually, but still amazing). However, when you visit a big city, be sure to seek out a small, minor piazza where you’ll get a break from the crowds and a better view of the everyday life in an Italian city. This is also where you’ll find some great restaurants and some of the best gelato shops.

Quiet Piazza in Reggio

Quiet Piazza in Reggio

Whenever I travel in Italy, I always make time to savor the piazza.

This is the place where I can slow down, grab something to eat or drink al fresco or just sit on a bench and watch the world go by.

About msraaka

I am an artist, writer and desktop publishing consultant living in the Pacific Northwest. After our first visit to Italy, my husband Bob and I have found ways to spend more and more time there and other countries in Europe. We love to travel, but especially to stay in one area and get a better sense of place. I love learning languages, so I continue to study Italian, French and Spanish so I can communicate a bit more with the locals. Even learning the basic greetings can make a big difference.
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4 Responses to Reason Three: Piazza Life

  1. Kelly Finnerty says:

    Watch out Rick Steves. There’s a new travel writer in town!

  2. Susan Dean says:

    So enjoying your daily blog, Martie! After spending time recently in Prague, Budapest, Vienna and other European cities, Italy has lots of company in the plaza notion! Why don’t we have such a custom in our country?

    • msraaka says:

      Thanks for the comment, Susan. California has some nice plazas, especially Sonoma and Healdsburg, where the locals use them like in Europe. Santa Fe has a nice one, too. The east coast has their village greens, but, I agree, we don’t have enough central places to gather in the U.S.

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